The U.S. Justice Department has told former casino magnate Steve Wynn to register as a foreign lobbyist for China and is ready to go to court if he doesn’t comply, a person familiar with the matter said.
The order stems from allegations that Wynn tried to persuade American officials in the summer of 2017 to send Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman with ties to former President Donald Trump, back to his home country, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a pending inquiry.
Reid Weingarten, Wynn’s attorney, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Guo, who fled China in late 2014, was charged there with corruption, bribery and fraud and is considered a fugitive by Chinese authorities. The Wall Street Journal, which reported earlier on the Justice Department inquiry on Wynn, quoted Guo as saying he was glad to hear the department is investigating Wynn and that “they should criminally indict him for serving as a greedy spy of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Gao is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and has worked with former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon. Bannon was aboard Guo’s yacht off the coast of Connecticut when he was arrested last year and charged with defrauding donors to a foundation that was privately funding construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump pardoned him as he was about to leave office and a federal judge dismissed the indictment earlier this week.
Under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, passed in 1938, any person representing the interest of foreign entities in the U.S. — including governments — must disclose their relationship to the Justice Department. They also need to make public all of the activities they’ve done on their behalf and, if applicable, how much they were paid.
Wynn, 79, helped develop the modern Las Vegas into a destination for upscale travelers as well as hardcore gamblers. His resorts, such as the Mirage and Bellagio, were famous for their outdoor spectacles, such as fountains and a faux volcano. Wynn Resorts Ltd., which he started after selling his first company, was one of just three U.S. operators to score licenses in Macau, a Chinese territory that would become the world’s largest gambling market.
A long-time Republican, he formerly spearheaded the party’s fund-raising efforts and helped organize Trump’s inauguration celebration.
Wynn ran into trouble after a number of former employees came public with stories of sexual harassment by him. He stepped down from the company that still bears his name and sold all of his shares in 2018 for a total of more than $2 billion.
He currently has a net worth of about $3.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He remains a prolific political donor and in 2020 gave a total of $708,500 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that raised money for Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and state parties.